No one could have imagined that the 23-year-old Ghana Universities Sports Association sprint king could improve in the space of months, from running 10.61s to breaking Ghana’s 22 -year 100m national record in a time of 9.97s.
Benjamin Azamati made it happen and lived almost every day, of the just ended season hogging sports headlines ,breaking records, and setting new times on the Global scene. The unreal strides Azamati has made in his career could only be properly put in the words by his Trainer at West Texas University, Matt Stewart.
“This is the fastest I have developed by far. I think last year with the Covid year and everything, I didn’t get the chance to see him. I only had him in January last year, so I didn’t get much time to work with him. So once we had a full summer, he really spent a lot of time getting better and working with our strength coach, Matt Segura, who has done a great job with him. He just kept getting better.”
At the start of the year, Coach Stewart feared corona virus had induced inactivity and could be a hurdle too high for Azamati considering so much time had been lost, but was pleasantly surprised at his improvement.
“We had full fall training with him, so four to five months. You saw it there – you saw some things that we did in testing. 30 meters acceleration, 300 meters time trials, you saw some things like. This guy is going to be special, and then once we got through indoor, outdoor obviously we’ve seen such a rapid development. He’s earned it; he’s worked hard for it.”
The writings were on the wall, considering his meteoric rise from his days at Presbyterian boys secondary school, to the University of Ghana where he partook in the African University Games in Cairo to become the fastest University athlete on the continent, and to the African games in Rabat where together with Joseph Paul Amoah, Sean Safo Antwi and Martin Owusu Antwi won gold in the men’s 4×100 relay race.
But Azamati is first to admit the just ended season surprised him a bit. He capped off his record-breaking season at the 2021 NCAA DII Outdoor Track & Field Championships winning the 100 and 200-meters while running the anchor leg on the 4×100-meter relay that finished second.
In the 100m, he ran the five-fastest times in NCAA DII history highlighted by his 9.97 at the Texas Relays, which was the fastest time in the world at the time and fastest anyone had run in Ghana. He broke the record of Leo Myles Miles (9.98s) which had stood for 22 years and went undefeated in the NCAA DII event.
He was equally impressive in the 200m as he broke the NCAA DII record at the Lone Star Conference Championships in 20.13 en route to helping the West Texas win their first outdoor conference title in program history. After losing in his first collegiate race in the event, he won four straight races including the NCAA DII title in Allendale, Mich.
The West Texas freshman broke his own facility record in the 100-meters en route to the national title and flew past the field to win in 10.02, the second-fastest time in NCAA DII history.
Azamati left no doubt who was the top sprinter in the NCAA DII ranks as he ran 20.23 to finish more than a half second ahead of Carson Newman’s Devin Moore.
He enjoyed success both in outdoor and indoor events in the 2021 Athletics season from January 2021-May 2021.
Besides competing on the local school level (WTAMU), he chalked heights at the Lone-Star Conference, as well as on the national stage at NCAA-organized competitions.
Azamati currently holds West Texas’ 60m record, with a time of 6.59. To bluff, the sprinter’s name repeats nine times in the top 10 of the 60m records of West Texas.
His slowest time of 6.71, is seven seconds faster than the time of 10th placed, Desmond Aryee, 6.78.
The ‘Ben-hogging’ continued in the 200m records of West Texas.
Azamati now holds the record for the top three best times in the 200m dash, and features four times in the top 10 best times of the 200m category.
Azamati’s 20.97, 21.00 and 21.25 are just too good for anyone to displace in the top three of the West Texas records.
His time of 20.97 ousted the 21.27 time first set in 2015 by Tommy Curry, and then repeated by Quintin Sansing in 2019.
In fact, Azamati and Sansing share the spoils from 5th all down to 10th in WTAMU’s best times in 200m. His slowest time of 21.42, finds him 9th on the log.
Azamati proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the sunshine as well.
He was in the top charts of most; if not all track categories he competed in during West Texas’ just-ended season.
The big stories seem to chase the 23-year-old, as he made the headlines when he became Ghana’s fastest man.
On 26th March of this year, the sprinter broke Ghana’s long-standing time in the 100m to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
His time, 9.97seconds in the 100m, displaced Leo Myles Mills’ 9.98s set during the 1998 event.
His name ripples through to the 5th, with 10.07 being his slowest. That time is nine seconds better than Kenny Jackson’s 10.16.
In the 200m outdoor event, Benjamin dominated the track once more. He displaced Quinton Sansing’s 2019 record and Kenny Jackson’s 2013 record of 20.71 by setting a time of 20.52.
That time was enough to take only the third spot, however, Azamati set Ghana’s second all-time fastest time when he run a time of 20.13 to lead West Texas’ rankings for the 200 metres event.
He is also tied 8th with Kenny Jackson’s 20.93
In the 4x100m relay, Benjamin Azamati was a part of a team which set a time of 39.82, leading the school’s rankings for the event.
The team which consisted of Jahmaal Wilson, Desmond Aryee, Tyrin Lewis and Azamati also feature predominantly in the rankings, occupying the 2nd, 3rd and 4th places as well.
Azamati featured in the Lone Star Conference as well, and just as he racked them up on the local school level, he was brilliant at the district level as well.
Lone Star Conference, Indoor
The Ghanaian is currently the record holder for the 60 and 100m indoor events.
At the event held between the 20th and 21st of February, Azamati posted a pair of the LSC record breaking performances.
He set the LSC all-time and championships mark in the 200-metres with 20.97, and during the 60-metres event, he posted a championship record time of 6.61.
Lone Star Conference, Outdoor
During the outdoor event of the same LSC which was organized in March, Azamati replicated his indoor form from February into the sunshine.
The sprinter won gold in both the 100-metres and 200-metres events, and he did not win gold without breaking records as usual.
In the prelims of the 100m, Azamati recorded a time of 10.03, the second fastest time in Division II history which broke the LSC championship’s best-ever and championships record.
After achieving that feat, he run 10.07 in the final, before yet again breaking another record, this time in the 200-metres event.
Azamati also competed in both the indoor and outdoor events of the NCAA track and field season, and just like he did within the boundaries of his school, he broke records at state level as well.
Azamati is currently the NCAA champion for the 60m event. At the 2021 Washburn Open, set a time of 6.59s, twenty seconds faster than A&M teammate, Desmond Aryee.
Although he racked up for himself records upon records, the 23-year-old fell short in the 200m event, and only managed to win bronze.
Azamati is currently NCAA’s champion for both the 100 and 200 metres events.
Besides winning the 100 and 200 metres events, Azamati is NCAA’s record holder for the 100 and 200 metres events in the Division II.
He also has the top five times for the 100m – 9.97, 10.02, 10.03, 10.04 and 10.07, the lad was made for the tracks!
The awards kept coming for Benjamin Azamati as the freshman was named the Lone Star Conference Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year, and the USTFCCCA Division II National Track of the Year after his record-breaking outdoor season that saw him win the 100 and 200-meters titles.
Azamati was also named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) NCAA Division II National Men’s Track Athlete of the Year and became the first Buff to win the award after leading them to their first-ever podium the NCAA DII Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Azamati will feature next at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics having qualified for the 100m, 200m and 4 x100m events and at this rate anything is possible for the daring, budding Ghanaian sprint Star.